There are only two weeks left in college football’s regular season, as some teams jockey for playoff position and conference titles, while others gear up for massive rivalry showdowns.
In Week 11, Alabama and Tennessee got back on track with wins over Ole Miss and Missouri, respectively. Washington ended Oregon‘s eight-game win streak, while TCU‘s season stayed perfect after handling Texas.
Saturday also brought a few lucky teams to bowl eligibility, several upsets, big plays and a jaw-dropping catch of the year. Let’s catch up on the best moments from the week.
UConn is bowl eligible!
Week 11 provided a lion’s share of shocks. Arizona (+20 vs. UCLA), Boston College (+18 vs. NC State), Vanderbilt (+17 vs. Kentucky), UL-Monroe (+13.5 vs. Georgia State) and Washington (+12 vs. Oregon) all won as double-digit underdogs, with Vandy ending a long SEC losing streak and Arizona ending UCLA’s College Football Playoff hopes. All were incredible results, but the most momentous surprise of the week came in East Hartford, where UConn overcame a solid Liberty defense, two second-half deficits and, well, a horrid recent history to score its sixth win of the season.
Jim Mora’s Huskies trailed Hugh Freeze’s Flames by scores of 27-21 and 33-28 in the second half, but they blew up a Liberty fourth-down attempt near midfield with 8:40 left, scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 30-yard Zion Turner-to-Kevens Clercius strike, then ended the game with one last fourth-down stop in the final minute.
— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) November 12, 2022
Bowl. Eligible. UConn. Even the Connecticut governor and UConn hockey fans were psyched up about it.
The XL Center crowd erupts as the PA announces that UConn football beat Liberty and is now bowl eligible pic.twitter.com/vJlaXNty6J
— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) November 12, 2022
Catch of the year?
In a game that had Notre Dame jump out to a big lead only for Navy to cut it close towards the end, the only thing anyone will remember is what will be Braden Lenzy‘s go-to discussion point at large gatherings.
Late in the first quarter, Irish QB Drew Pyne chucked one downfield to Lenzy, who was well-covered by a Navy defensive back one-on-one.
It didn’t matter, as Lenzy proceeded to catch the ball behind his back.
— ESPN (@espn) November 12, 2022
The catch was a difficult one that Lenzy made look easy as he pulled the football away with his right hand and galloped toward the stands.
The score made it 14-0 Notre Dame, who would go on to lead 35-13 at halftime. The Midshipmen did the only scoring in the second half, cutting it to a 35-32 lead with 1:21 left, but it was too little, too late.
Besides, Notre Dame wasn’t about to lose that football game after that catch.
–Harry Lyles Jr.
The best celebration of the week was a backflip that drew not one, not two, but three different flags from referees.
After USC went up 32-10 on Colorado in the third quarter of Friday night’s blowout win over the Buffs, coach Lincoln Riley decided to add some style points to the Trojans’ résumé. The fake PAT worked to perfection, and holder Will Rose (who is also USC’s punter) waltzed into the end zone, then proceeded to pull off the aforementioned backflip.
A 2-point conversion… and a FLIP 🔄😅 pic.twitter.com/20o8g4KCZW
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 12, 2022
The no-fun flags ensued, but it didn’t matter. Even Riley wasn’t that upset by the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties postgame. It was that kind of night for the Trojans, who, after a slow start, scored 53 points in the last three quarters and won 55-17. They were once again fueled by Caleb Williams, who added three more touchdowns to his tally this season and threw only his second interception of the year. It was Williams who was later shown on the sidelines fired up and yelling at teammates. He also had a trick of his own — this no-look flip that went for a touchdown:
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) November 12, 2022
With UCLA and Notre Dame ahead, Williams and the rest of the USC offense will need to keep firing on all cylinders to stay in contention for the conference and a possible spot in the playoffs.
— Paolo Uggetti
Week 11 Takeaways
Oregon’s loss impacts the entire Pac-12.
The Pac-12 continues to get in its own way, and this time it was Oregon who couldn’t escape an upset at the hands of Washington.
In the span of a few minutes, the Ducks’ College Football Playoff chances evaporated into the Eugene air. After deciding to go for it on fourth down with Bo Nix on the sideline in their own territory and failing — allowing Washington to kick a go-ahead field goal — a banged-up Nix couldn’t muster some late magic to keep Oregon and the conference in the playoff hunt.
Dan Lanning’s decision to go for it on fourth down raised plenty of eyebrows, but be it an irrational confidence in his offense or no confidence in the Ducks’ defense, the result leaves Oregon with only the conference title to play for.
And given the Pac-12’s track record, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Ducks ended up keeping the only remaining Pac-12 team with a shot at the playoff (9-1 USC) out of it by beating them in that title game. It would be nothing but fitting for a conference that has been either not good enough to compete against the sport’s best or too deep for its own good.
Case in point: No conference has more ranked teams this week than the Pac-12.
— Paolo Uggetti
Don’t count out Iowa.
In the last 15 years, only five teams had managed the odd feat of averaging 2.8 or fewer yards per play in a game while still winning by two touchdowns or more.
2011: Florida State (1.6) def. Florida 21-7, 2007: Notre Dame (2.1) def. UCLA 20-6, 2014: Missouri (2.4) def. Florida 42-13, 2008: Arizona State (2.4) def. UCLA 34-9, 2012: Florida (2.8) def. South Carolina 44-11
Three of these games involved Will Muschamp’s Florida, two involved either Karl Dorrell’s UCLA (2007) or the UCLA roster Dorrell left for Rick Neuheisel (2008), and none of them had come in the last eight calendar years.
Just when we thought Iowa had pulled off everything it could in the field of winning with defense, special teams and the smallest amount of offense possible, Kirk Ferentz’s Hawkeyes crossed the Muschamp Line on Saturday. They averaged just 2.2 yards per play, gained just 146 total yards … and beat Wisconsin 24-10 thanks to a Cooper DeJean pick-six and touchdown drives of 17 yards (after a blocked punt) and 18 yards (after a long DeJean punt return). Iowa was outgained by 81 yards and went just 6-for-19 on third downs, but it didn’t matter — they forced three turnovers, made two huge special team plays, won in the most Iowa way possible and somehow forced their way back into the Big Ten West race.
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) November 13, 2022